The equation: how the Socceroos can progress to next round of World Cup qualifying
The Socceroos are in the box seat to progress to the third round of FIFA World Cup Qatar 2022™️ qualifying - but in a competitive Group B there's no such thing as a certainty heading into four highly-anticipated fixtures taking place in Kuwait this month.
The objective is simple for Australia heading into the four upcoming qualifying fixtures: to end the run of games in the same position where they start.
The Socceroos are top of Group B in the Asian Football Confederation (AFC), having played one less game than the Kuwait, Jordan (10 points apiece), Nepal (three points) and Chinese Taipei (zero points). Finishing top by the end of qualifying would see the Socceroos automatically progress to the third round of AFC qualifying for the FIFA World Cup Qatar 2022™️.
Finishing second would leave Australia in a precarious position. Arnold's side would need to be one of the four best runners-up out of eight AFC qualifying groups to progress to an Asian and intercontinental play-off fixture.
Anything below a second-place finish would see Australia bow out of the running for a spot at the 2022 FIFA World Cup.
Chinese Taipei, who can pick up a maximum total of nine points, are unable to catch the Socceroos by the end of qualifying whilst Nepal are all-but confirmed to finish below Australia, trailing by nine points with three games to play, with a goal difference of 38 separating the two sides.
That leaves Jordan and Kuwait as the two sides with realistic ability to knock Australia off top spot, or out of the top two altogether.
Both Jordan and Kuwait can finish qualifying with a maximum of 19 points apiece. If Australia win on Friday morning (AEST), Kuwait's maximum points total reduces to 16, meaning the Socceroos would need a further two points from their remaining three games to finish above their upcoming opponents.
Australia meet Jordan on Wednesday, June 16 (AEST) in the final fixture of the qualifying run. Arnold's side can build up a 21-point total with wins in their first three games against Kuwait, Chinese Taipei (June 8 AEST) and Nepal (June 12 AEST) to go out of sight of Jordan before the two sides play on June 16.
But anything less than three victories against Kuwait, Chinese Taipei and Nepal, however, would mean Australia could accumulate a maximum of 19 points before facing Jordan, leaving the door slightly ajar for Jordan to push to claim top spot by the end of Group B qualifying.
It's all to play for in a crucial month which brings an end to an 18-month wait for the Socceroos to return to action. Arnold and his 31-man squad are buzzing to don the Green and Gold and represent the nation once more - find out how you can follow all the action below!
Australia v Kuwait
Thursday, 3 June 2021 (4 June AEST)
Venue: Jaber Al-Hamad International Stadium
Kick-off: 10.00pm local, 5:00am AEST (Friday morning)
Watch on Fox Sports, Kayo Sports, ABC TV, and My Football Live App.